[T]wo friends from the Royal Northern College of Music are putting on a concert at the Great Barn in Newby End on the afternoon of Thursday 25th August.
Cellist Sarah Gait, 22, lives near Hesket Newmarket and has just graduated from the RNCM in Manchester with a first class degree, gaining the title of Bachelor of Music with Honours.
21-year-old Meera Maharaj is about to start her final year as flautist at the prestigious college, which attracts students of the highest calibre from across the globe. Sarah and Meera first met in 2007, when they performed a recital together in Penrith as students of the Junior RNCM. Nearly ten years on, they are delighted to come together again to present an exciting programme of works for solo flute and solo cello in David Jones’ beautifully converted barn in Newby.
The concert, “Summer Music in Eden”, takes place on the afternoon of Thursday 25th August at 2.30pm, in the Great Barn, Newby End Farm. Sarah and Meera will perform an hour long programme of beautiful works including Bach’s Suite in D minor for solo cello, a selection of Fantasies for solo flute by Telemann and Debussy’s Syrinx.
However, both musicians have a keen sense of musical adventure and are always looking to bring a new dimension to their programmes. They were recently immensely privileged to work personally with Markus Stockhausen, distinguished German trumpeter and son of the illustrious avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. Markus Stockhausen has released an extensive discography under EMI Classics, and, alongside Markus and his duo partner pianist Florian Weber, the two young musicians explored the concept of live improvisation.
Cellist Sarah, the only string player out of the whole conservatoire to be granted the opportunity to work with these musicians, responded: “It was an immensely inspiring experience to play with Markus and Florian.
“When you’re improvising live onstage with a group of maybe eight or nine people, anything can happen: it’s completely spontaneous and unplanned. The whole experience was very organic.
“Markus invited us just the night before to join him in his public recital, which was a bit of a surprise, as well as an honour! Towards the middle of the concert, a small group of us came onstage to join the two musicians, and then out of the silence we created a piece of music.
“When you improvise with a group, it’s like a conversation really. The emotion ebbs and flows – and at one point, just in the middle of the piece, Markus gestured to the group for silence and signalled to me and Florian to play together alone. It was completely on-the-spot and could have felt very exposed, but in fact it just came completely naturally.
“We played together, just the two of us, for perhaps one or two minutes, and it felt beautiful – so inspiring, as though the music was just flowing out from inside of us.”
Their performance was received with much acclaim by professionals and audience alike, and Meera and Sarah have been inspired to integrate this approach into their programme – so the audience can ‘expect the unexpected’ alongside some wonderful standard works.
While flautist Meera hails from Warrington, she has an Appleby connection as her family lived there for many years. She has always enjoyed spending as much time as possible in Eden and loves the outdoors.
Meera is already appearing on the international stage, this April winning the Dutch International Flute Competition 2016, which, according to the competition’s website, attracts “participants from more than 25 countries”. This year Meera was also fortunate to be accepted on to the BBC Phiharmonic Orchestra’s Professional Experience Scheme, appearing in public performances with the orchestra, and she is currently on tour with the RNCM Symphony Orchestra in Montepulciano, Italy.
In previous years Meera has enjoyed performing in the Fellside concert series across Eden – and in fact has Kendal flautist and Flutes and Co. leader Suzanne de Lozey to thank for the opportunity to first meet her teacher, Wissam Boustany. Meera attended her first masterclass with Wissam there when she was 11 and has enjoyed these events ever since!
Sarah has also loved performing around her local area from an early age, including for Penrith Piano Circle and Carlisle International Summer Music Festival.
More recently, she has been performing and touring as soloist and with her piano trio, winners of the RNCM’s Weil Prize for chamber music, as well as presenting her own events – often with a unique perspective. Sarah’s recent ‘Cellastic Band’ project, which she single-handedly designed, managed and created the music for, brought eight of RNCM’s most talented cellists to Manchester’s Whitworth Art Gallery (Winner of Visit England’s gold prize for Large Visitor Attraction of the Year 2016). She finished her academic year with an appearance at the Bridgewater Hall under esteemed conductor Sir Mark Elder.
This September, Sarah has been fortunate to gain a highly sought-after postgraduate place at the Royal Academy of Music in London, studying for a Master of Music under leading soloist Guy Johnston.
One of Sarah’s very first performances was at Newby End, at the age of six, so she is absolutely delighted to be returning this summer with Meera!
Time and date: Thursday 25th August, 2.30pm.
Tickets for the performance are available either on the door or in advance from David Jones of Newby End Farm on 01931 714338.
Tickets are £8/£4 concessions. The concert is followed by wine and nibbles!
Venue: The Great Barn, Eden Valley Holidays, Newby End Farm, Newby, Penrith, Cumbria, CA10 3EX.